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Top 11 of ’11

There are certain things that everybody does around the end of the year—like make resolutions they’ll probably never keep. There are also certain things that just about every publication (print and online) does—like write top ten lists for the past year, making sure to name-drop every headline maker and huge trend.

We didn’t want to be the only publication not to get in on the year list action, but we did want to be at least a little creative so we decided to do top eleven instead of top ten. It was 2011 after all, right? We tried to cover as much as possible—from the national and local headlines that had us talking, to the TV shows we cared enough to watch, to the websites where many of us spent way too much time. So here it is—our Top 11 of 2011.

National Headlines
A few bad guys got killed, a prince got married and too many Americans remained out of work. Here’s a roundup of the year’s biggest headlines.

1. Osama bin Laden Killed
On May Day, a team of Navy Seals reportedly assassinated the Al Qaeda leader in his Pakistan compound. Less than 24 hours later, bin Laden’s body was said to be dropped at sea.

2. Occupy Wall Street
In mid-September people took to the streets of New York City to protest the widening disparity of wealth and what they view as a corrupt banking system. The movement spread across the country—even making its way to downtown Pensacola.

3. Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell Repeal
President Obama finally made good on a campaign promise this year by putting an end to the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” policy.  Service members who were dismissed because of the policy were allowed to reenlist if they wanted to do so.

4. “End” of the War in Iraq
Nearly a decade since invading Iraq under false pretenses, America is pulling out after the country’s government refused to allow the foreign troops to stay. While the soldiers are leaving the private security contractors will remain.

5. Unemployment Rate Remains Too High
Despite various policy attempts by the Obama administration and Congress, the national unemployment rate remained close to 10 percent for most of the year.

6. Prince William and Kate Middleton Wed
The hearts and hopes of girls around the world broke on Friday, April 29 when Prince William wed Catherine Middleton in Westminster Abbey. An estimated two billion people worldwide tuned in to watch the nuptials on TV.

7. Casey Anthony Not Guilty
The case that transfixed America for three years came to a shocking halt in July and it seemed like just about everybody you talked to had an opinion about the verdict—mostly that it was wrong.

8. NASA Launches Final Space Shuttle Mission
NASA launched space shuttle Atlantis on its final flight in July. The sendoff was spectacular and sad. The end of an era, indeed.

9. Penn State Pedophile
Jerry Sandusky was arrested for being a pedophile and it appears that certain Penn State officials knew about it and didn’t do anything, including Joe Paterno. Most of us are still trying to wrap our heads around this one.

10. Republican Primary Craziness
From Herman Cain’s alleged discretions and affairs to Michelle Bachman’s anti-gay slurs, the battle for the Republican presidential nomination has been a fun one to watch for sure. And it’s only going to get better in 2012.

11. Japan’s Tsunami
After an undersea earthquake triggered a tsunami, nearly 16,000 people perished as the nation’s coast was ravaged and facilities at the Fukushima nuclear site began careening toward meltdowns.

Local Newsmakers – Good, Bad & the Ugly

Ashton Hayward isn’t the only newsmaker in Pensacola, even though it sometimes seems that way. Here are some other names that got their fair share of press this past year.

1. Rev. Nathan Monk
The advocate for the homeless became a web sensation when Pensacola Council President Sam Hall tried to get him removed from the podium during the public forum of a council meeting.

2. Rebecca Smith
The self-proclaimed vampire woman was arrested after allegedly attacking an elderly man outside of a Hooters restaurant in St. Petersburg, Fla. while claiming to be a vampire.

3. NBt3v!l
The hacker in May replaced several of the Escambia County School District’s websites with a page that stated “We Love Iran” and images of a skull and crossbones image, along with a drawing of an obscene finger gesture. He/she was never caught.

4. Pam Childers
The City of Pensacola Financial Services Manager filed in August to run against incumbent Ernie Lee Magaha for the Escambia County Clerk of Court. Magaha was probably elected before Childers’ parents were born.

5. Donnie Stallworth
It took three trials and the testimony of one of the getaway drivers to finally convict the Air Force sergeant on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of home invasion in the July 2009 murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings.

6. Stephen Jones
The Navy petty officer from Cantonment who faced discharge for falling asleep in bed with another male sailor claiming he did so while watching the “Vampire Diaries” TV series. The Navy later dropped dismissal proceedings.

7. Jim Messer
The former assistant attorney for Escambia County was Mayor Ashton Hayward’s pick to replace City Attorney Rusty Wells. The selection created a split with some of the Pensacola City Council that has yet to heal. Heck, the wound hasn’t even scabbed over.

8. Tony Henderson
The chief assistant public defender for the First Judicial Circuit resigned after allegations were published by the daily newspaper that he requested sexual favors in exchange for effective legal services for a former client.

9. Larry Strain
The executive director of the UWF Small Business Development Center was named Florida Star of the Year by Florida Small Business Development Center Network for his work with the Florida Emergency Bridge Loan Program during the BP oil disaster.

10. Donald Moore
The owner of AES got in trouble when his company bounced payroll checks from its payroll processing company. After he paid off all the debts, the State Attorney declared no crime had been committed.

11. William “Cadillac” Banks, Sr.
The first cousin of Escambia County Commissioner Marie Young’s administrative assistant created a stir when the Tourist Development Council failed to give him $385,685 for a two-day music festival.

Pop Matters

It was a pretty good year for pop culture—Britney Spears kept it together and actually made music instead of tabloid headlines, Kanye West didn’t make any nice-girl singers cry in public and the major networks actually made some new primetime shows that aren’t “reality” based.  This is what we think trended most in the worlds of movies, music, TV and books in 2011.

1. Funny Girls Take Over TV
For the first time in what feels like forever, network TV actually has some decent new sitcoms on the air.  And even more surprisingly, most of them feature smart, funny females as leads. “New Girl,” “Two Broke Girls” and “Whitney” are all quickly on their way to securing “must-see TV” status.

2. Books Still Make Money At The Box Office
The kids might not read as much as they used to, but they sure do go to see movies based on books. Again, this year, some of the biggest box office winners were based on novels—like “The Help,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 “ and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” And don’t even get us started on “Twilight.”

3. Another Good Year For Indie Rock
Arcade Fire and their Album of the Year Grammy win might have been the biggest indie rock story of the year (heck, maybe even the decade) and it definitely started a trend of small bands getting big attention in 2011. Fleet Foxes’ “Helplessness Blues,” Cut Copy’s  “Zonoscope,” The War on Drugs’ “Slave Ambient” and Bon Iver’s self-titled album are all topping most music critic’s lists for the year. Bon Iver is up for four Grammy’s in 2012—maybe the trend will continue.

4. Famous Reads
From Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” to Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs, books written by or about famous people stood out on 2011′s bestseller lists, for sure. Given that half of the IN staff is currently reading “The Office” actress/comedy writer Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?,” we predict this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

5. Country Stars Make Good Pop Stars After All
Everyone who thought that Taylor Swift’s brand of country-star-meets-pop-star wasn’t going to last is probably not admitting it now. Not only did she get more famous, sell more records and win more awards in 2011, but she also seems to have paved the way for more country stars to expand outside of Nashville. You can’t deny that Blake Shelton holds his own on “The Voice” and the hit song, “If I Die Young,” by The Band Perry got played out on pop radio just like any Katy Perry or Rhianna hit.

6. The Show Must Go On
Does “The Office” work without Steve Carell? And what about “Two And A Half Men” without Charlie Sheen?  This was a hot topic debated at most water coolers around the country this year and so far the answer is yes. Ashton Kutcher is actually bringing in bigger ratings as Sheen’s replacement.  However, the real test of this trend will come next season with “Glee”–they have to decide how to deal with several main characters graduating, not just one.

7. It’s OK To Like Kanye West Again
Maybe he hit rock bottom with the Taylor Swift awards show mess or maybe he just got tired of being called a jackass by everyone (including the President), but it appears that Mr. West has actually gotten his act together over the past year. Instead of crazy rants on Twitter and egocentric speeches, he just made a lot of good music in 2011—including Watch the Throne with Jay-Z—and earned seven Grammy nominations to boot. Let’s just hope he stays likable for a while.

8. Ryan Gosling Everywhere
It was hard to escape pretty boy actor Ryan Gosling in 2011. Not only did he snag two Golden Globe nominations (for the drama “Ides of March” and the comedy “Crazy Stupid Love”), but he also has devoted fans that took to the web in protest when he wasn’t selected as “People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.” And he’s very popular with the Tumblr crowd, inspiring countless blogs. “Ryan Gosling Works In Publishing” (ryangoslingpublishing.tumblr.com) is one of our office favorites.

9. Pensacola Theaters Still Miss Out On A Lot Of Good Movies
Every year when awards season rolls around, local movie fans are reminded about just how many good movies we miss here in P’cola. The indie thriller “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and the documentary “Project Nim” are predicted Oscar picks that haven’t made it to our local theaters. With the recent closing of Gulf Breeze Cinema 4, we predict even slimmer pickins’ of under-the-radar flicks in 2012.

10. “It” Brits on TV
If you (or, at least, some of your friends) aren’t already obsessed with BBC’s “Downtown Abbey,” you will be soon. It takes a while sometimes for these kinds of shows to catch on, but trust us, it’s going to happen.

11. Reality TV Hits New Lows
“The Jersey Shore” cast went to Italy and called Europe “that big country.” Kim Kardashian had a four-hour wedding special on E! for a marriage that lasted only 72 days. The year 2011 really was full of new lows for the world of reality TV.

Online Life

Whether you like to admit it or not, you probably spend a lot of time online. Keeping up with new sites and trends can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Lucky for you, we actually like that job. Here are the blogs, websites and social networking trends we couldn’t get enough of in 2011.

1. Tumblr Takeover
Not only is Tumblr easier to use than most other blog templates, it’s also more fun to look at. Web experts call this trend “microblogging” but we just call it Tumblr-ing.

2. What’s The Deal
Sites like Groupon and Living Social are still all the rage. If you haven’t gotten on board and started saving money, you should.

3. Celebrity & Parody Twitter Accounts
Reading most people’s tweets can get boring pretty fast. Unless, of course, they’re famous or totally fictitious and funny. Our favorite mock Twitter handle is @MayorAshton. The top three celebs we think are worth following are: Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) and Kanye West (@kanyewest).

4.  Pinterest Mania
Whoever came up with Pinterest had a good year for sure. It’s a pretty basic idea, which is an online pin-board where users can organize and share images they like, but done surprisingly well. You have to get or request an “invite” to join, so that’s managed to keep the quality up (so far, at least).

5. Facebook Is Still King
Checking in on Foursquare might be a dying trend, but Facebook in general certainly isn’t—even though a lot of us might have hoped so after our moms “friended” us this year.

6. Instagram
Not sure if a free iPhone app has ever been as hip as Instagram.  An homage to Polaroid cameras, it’s a photo-sharing app that allows users to take photos, apply filters and share them through whatever social networking site (or sites) they choose.  Supposedly, an Android version is on the way in 2012.

7. Spotify
Nobody knows you know good music these days unless you make a Spotify playlist to prove it.

8. Girls Run The (Blog) World
One thing there’s no shortage of on the web right now is female bloggers. Some are even turning their blog success into books, like Grace Bonney’s “Design*Sponge.”

9. Locals On Twitter (Finally)
It took a while, but a few Pensacola businesses are finally utilizing Twitter. Vinyl Music Hall (@VinylMusicHall) and DeLuna Fest (@delunafest) are two of the best in our opinion.

10. RSS S.O.S.
Once all the rage in web world, RSS feeds are pretty much a thing of the past now. Why? Mostly because Twitter and other social networking sites provide a similar service. Want even more proof RSS feeds are headed out? Google Chrome and Firefox 4 dropped or limited RSS support this year.

11. Google+
It’s not the new Facebook—yet—but enough people asked us to join their “circle” this year to make us sign-up for an account. Maybe next year we’ll actually log-in and see what it is.

Notable Departures

Honestly, we lost way more than 11 important people in 2011. But we had to narrow the list down to keep with the theme. R.I.P to those listed and those who are not.

1. Steve Jobs (b. 1955)
Co-founder of Apple, maker of beautiful machines and a true genius. President Obama summed up his untimely passing best: “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators—brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.”

2. Kim Jong II (b. 1941)
The supreme leader of North Korea from 1994 until his death, and puppet star of “Team America: World Peace.”

3. Christopher Hitchens (b. 1949)
British-American author and columnist, and literary critic for “The Atlantic,” “Free Inquiry,” “The Nation,” “Salon,” “Slate,” “Vanity Fair” and “World Affairs.” In 2005, he was voted the world’s fifth-top public intellectual in a Prospect/Foreign Policy poll.

4. Joe Frazier (b. 1944)
Smokin’ Joe was an Olympic and World Heavyweight boxing champion, whose professional career lasted from 1965 to 1976. His fights with Muhammad Ali were legendary.

5. Fred Shuttlesworth (b. 1922)
Birmingham pastor who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. When actor Hal Holbrook was interviewed by the IN, he talked of Shuttlesworth and his fellow civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He credited King as the intellectual. “Martin Luther King figured out the way to get the Civil Rights Movement on its feet was to show non-violent interactions on television and it would make people ashamed of themselves. Holbrook said of Shuttlesworth, “I remember that he was the fierce one.”

6. Amy Winehouse (b. 1983)
English singer-songwriter whose album, “Back to Black,” led to six Grammy Award nominations and five wins, tying the then record for the most wins by a female artist in a single night.

7. Betty Ford (b. 1918)
The First Lady of the United States during the presidency of her husband, Gerald Ford. As First Lady, she maintained high approval ratings despite opposition from some conservative Republicans who objected to her more moderate and liberal positions on social issues.

8. Elizabeth Taylor (b. 1932)
The British-American actress became one of the great stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age.  She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for “Butterfield 8” (1960) and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966). From the mid-1980s, Taylor championed HIV and AIDS programs; she co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1985, and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1993.

9. Geraldine Ferraro (b. 1935)
The first female Vice Presidential candidate representing a major American political party when she ran in 1984 on the Democrat ticket with Walter Mondale. She served as a United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights from 1993 until 1996, in the presidential administration of Bill Clinton.

10. Yancy Spencer III (b. 1950)
His many accomplishments put the Gulf Coast on the world map of surfing. Among his achievements were: 1st in East Coast Pro Division-1973, Senior Men’s U.S. Shortboard Champion-1986, Senior Men’s U.S. Longboard Surfing Champion-1995. He was inducted into the East Coast Surf Legends Hall of Fame in 1995 and into the Pensacola Sports Association Hall of Fame in 2009.

11. Gwendolyn “Gwen” Appelquist May (b. 1924)
The first female chair to the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce and the recipient of many community and business awards and designations, including the BIP Business Leader Award, United Way Community Service Award, Outstanding Woman of the Year for the State Women’s Council of Realtors, recipient twice of the Realtor of the Year Award, Outstanding Woman Business Leader, and Hall of Fame recipient for many organizations.

Year In Preview
Get out your calendars and save these key dates for 2012.

Feb. 5
Super Bowl XLVI will happen at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana

Feb. 29
That’s right, it’s a leap year, so don’t miss 2/29 sneaking in

April 5
The Blue Wahoos will open the season at Maritime Park

April 6
Titanic 3D opens in theaters to mark the 100th anniversary of the ship’s doomed voyage

July 27
The Summer Olympics kickoff

Nov. 6
The next presidential election